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Elections board approves Sunday voting for May primary
Polls will be open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 15
Proposed Precints.jpg
A map of proposed voting precincts for the 2022 election.

Many voters in Forsyth County will have new voting places this year, along with an option for Sunday voting.

At a special-called meeting on Friday, Feb. 11, members of the Forsyth County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections voted to approve precinct and polling places changes, advance voting dates and times and rules for the county’s absentee ballot drop box.

Other election information is available at the county's website

Here’s a look at what was discussed at the meeting. 

Sunday voting

Voters in Tuesday, May 24’s general primary and nonpartisan general election will have an option to cast ballots on a Sunday.

At the meeting, board members voted 3-2, with nonpartisan chair Barbara Luth and Republican appointee Carla Radzikinas opposed, to approve advance voting on Sunday, May 15 for the election from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the county elections office, 1201 Sawnee Drive.

Luth, who previously served as the director of Forsyth County’s department of voter registrations and elections, said she was opposed to voting on Sunday due to the added work for employees.

“There’s so much to do, I’m sorry, but I really don’t believe it's worth it,” Luth said. “That’s up to the board to decide for poll workers. I don’t think we should even entertain Sundays.”

Prior to the vote, Luth added that over recent years, advance voting options had expanded.

“At one time, we had 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day only. We have opened option after option after option for people to come and vote. We do not discourage people from voting here in Forsyth County. We want everyone to vote… I think if people want to vote, they’re going to get out and vote, and I think Saturday is fine. I think we need to give everybody a break on Sunday and not have Sunday [voting], but there are motions on the floor.”

Republican appointee Joel Natt said while he did agree workers needed time off, he favored seeing how voters responded to Sunday voting.

“I really hate the idea, personally, of asking our full-time and part-time staff and poll workers to work seven days and everything, but on the same token, I sit here, and I read the statistics, and I read numbers that say at some point, we have to give everything a try… 

"If we have nobody show up, it becomes an argument of ‘Do we do this again in November,’ because we had no turnout,” he said. “If people really want to see it in Forsyth County like they see it in other counties, they will show up. If they don’t want it, they won’t show up.”

Speakers from the community opposed and in favor of Sunday voting spoke at Friday’s meeting and a meeting in earlier February where the matter was also discussed.

Members of the board did not favor voting on Sunday, May since that is Mother’s Day.

The extra day of voting was originally proposed to be open 1-4 p.m., before extending the hours was approved by a 3-2 vote along the same lines as the eventual motion.

Sunday voting is allowed in Georgia but must be approved by local elections officials. Neighboring Hall and Cherokee counties also recently approved Sunday voting.

 

Other advance voting dates

Before making a decision on Sunday voting, members of the board unanimously approved advance voting for other days of the week, which will be open for three weeks, including two Saturdays, ahead of the election dates.

Under the proposal, for the first week of early voting, including Saturday, voters in the elections will only cast ballots at the election’s office.

Starting with the second week and continuing the following Saturday and the third week, early voting will be held at the election’s office, Hampton Park Library and the community centers at Midway and Sharon Springs parks.

During advance voting, voters can cast ballots at any of the locations, though voters on election day will have to go to their precinct’s polling place.

For all advance voting, polls are proposed to be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the first two weeks and during Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the final week. Election Day voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The week of May 2-6; Saturday, May 5; the week of May 9-13; Saturday, May 14; and the week of May 16-20.

For the November general election, advance voting will be open: the week of Oct. 17-21; Saturday, Oct. 22; the week of Oct. 24-28; Saturday, Oct. 29; and the week of Oct. 31-Nov. 4

Luth said if a primary runoff is needed, advance voting would be held at the elections office, but other locations could also be open.

That election would be held on Tuesday, June 21.

At the meeting, members approved placing an absentee ballot drop box in the elections office.

State law requires the boxes to be inside and only allows voters to drop ballots during the same hours as advance voting.


New precincts

Many voters will report to a new polling place on elections days this year, as changes were approved for precinct lines and polling places.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 1 Forsyth County Voter Registrations & Elections Director Mandi Smith led a discussion on a new list of 28 precincts and polling places in Forsyth County.

On Friday, Smith said 27 of those changes were good to go, but changes would need to be made to the Mountainside Precinct, Precinct 45, which had planned to hold voting at Cumming First United Methodist Church.

Smith said she had since been contacted by church leadership, who said the space would no longer be available.

Among the options discussed were splitting the precinct, which lies northwest of the city of Cumming, along Hwy. 20 into two precincts with different polling places or finding another polling place, including some that might not be available in both May and November.

Smith said some potential polling places have been floated, but nothing was approved during the meeting

The number of precincts will be an increase from the 20 used in the 2021 election.

Board members approved advertised precinct changes and all changes for all polling places except Mountains

Board members first unanimously approved the advertised precinct changes and all changes for all polling places except Mountainside.

While the additions would mean some new locations will be open, some previous polling places, including Central and Coal Mountain parks, will not be available this year due to other conflicts.

The proposal would also create new precincts of Fowler, Johns Creek, Nichols, Daces Creek, Mathis, West Forsyth, Grassland, Keith Bridge, Lakeland, Lanier, Mountainside, Sawmill Branch, River Club and Silver City.

The previous Browns Bridge, Polo and Sawnee precincts would be closed in the plan.